An East German soldier at Checkpoint Charlie on the Berlin border. Photograph by Paul Schutzer. Berlin, Germany, October 1962.
June 18, 2013, 7:23pm / 100
The lights are going out all across Europe.
June 18, 2013, 4:00pm / 3006
73 years ago today, 18 June 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced to the House of Commons that the Battle of France was over. France had fallen to the Third Reich and Hitler, making the last democratic country holding out the island of Great Britain. Four days after Churchill’s speech, the armistice would be signed dividing France into two zones—the Occupied and the Vichy puppet state—that would last until 6 June 1944 and the successful Allied invasion of the country and European continent.
In May, the German offensive swept across France swiftly, from Brittany and Normandy, down to the Swiss border. The Maginot Line, an ineffective and worthless piece of construction, was encircled and its garrisons captured. By 14 June, German troops were entering an empty Paris; two days after, Premier Paul Reynaud resigned from office and was replaced by the aged Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain. Almost immediately after taking office, he asked the Germans for an armistice. On 22 June 1940, that armistice was signed in the very same rail car that the Germans had found themselves in during the 1918 talks, with Adolf Hitler seating himself in the same chair that Marshal Ferdinand Foch had. It was the humiliation that the Führer believed the French deserved.
Following the signing of the Franco-Italian armistice two days later, the French guns fell silent.
France, which had held out unbeaten for four years in the previous World War, was out of the war after only six weeks. German troops stood guard over most, if not all, of Europe; From the North Cape above the Arctic Circle to Bordeaux, from the English Channel to the River Bug in eastern Poland. All that stood between Hitler and his establishment of a idealized Großdeutschland, was one little island with its incredibly stubborn leader and a determined people who did not seem to recognize defeat even as it stared them in the face. The British Empire, or rather what was left of the Empire, stood alone and virtually unarmed attempting to fight a war on two fronts.
June 18, 2013, 2:00pm / 112
Prosecutors on Tuesday charged a 98-year-old who features on Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center’s wanted list with war crimes, saying he had helped to deport Jews to Auschwitz in World War II.
Laszlo Csatary was found guilty in absentia in 1948 of whipping or torturing Jews and helping to deport them to the death camp while serving as police commander in the Nazi-occupied eastern Slovak city of Kosice in 1944.
The Hungarian was sentenced to death and lived on the run for decades until Hungarian authorities detained him and put him under house arrest in Budapest in July last year. He has denied any guilt.
June 18, 2013, 1:01pm / 36